On-the-go Healthy Snacks

Fresh Fruit Kabobs And Dip

Quick, Healthy and Delicious Snacks For Kids

If you're a mom, you're all too familiar with the concept of being busy. Since you're constantly on the go, making healthy snack options for your kids can often seem like a difficult task. Thankfully, it's not as hard as you think. Instead of letting your kids munch on fast food, introduce them to these simple yet delicious healthy snacks.
Veggies and Dip
Creamy ranch dip (not ranch dressing) can make an excellent small meal option for youngsters. Not only can the right recipe of ranch dip be healthy, but it can also be filling. To make this dip, you need nonfat buttermilk, salt, onion powder, minced garlic, black pepper, fresh dill (if the kids like it), parsley and softened cream cheese. Once you gather all these ingredients, put the buttermilk and softened cream cheese together in a tiny bowl. Then, mix them well using a whisk. Finally, integrate all of the rest of the components by thoroughly stirring them in, too. Once your dip is prepared, serve it with fresh sliced vegetables such as broccoli florets, carrots and celery. Not only will your kids love it, but it's also excellent nutrition-wise. You can also try it with healthy crackers - those high in whole grains and fiber, and without sugar and artificial flavorings.
Fruit and Cheese KabobsIf you're looking for a tasty, protein-rich snack for your kids, then fruit and cheese kabobs can make a fun and quick option. All you have to do is purchase low-fat cheese cubes and several options of fresh fruit -- think melons, strawberries, bananas, raspberries and apples. After that, all you have to do is put them on wooden skewers. Not only do children usually think these kabobs are yummy and filling, but they also can be helpful for keeping them active and satisfied until supper is ready. At home, you can add some plain or vanilla yogurt for dipping. And they're easily portable if you're on your way to soccer practice.

Whole Grain Chips
Tortilla chips also can make a nutritious and kid-friendly snack, especially if they're whole grain. Cover these chips with shredded cheese, salsa and vegetables. If you have a Trader Joe's in your area, they have some good options. You can also let your kids dip the chips in a tasty guacamole or the ranch dip above.
Other Ideas
If your children are in the mood for a sweeter snack option, not many things can top good old-fashioned graham crackers. For some extra fun, flavor and nutrition, let them dip the graham crackers in applesauce. Or stick to the traditional milk.Hummus is yet another excellent healthy snack for kids. The Middle Eastern staple food dip is chock-full of protein and fiber. It's also rich in olive oil, which is beneficial for the heart. Allow your kids to nosh on hummus with slices of fresh vegetables. Since hummus has a pleasantly subtle taste, kids are sure to appreciate it. Eat with veggies or chips.

Keep your kids healthy, content and active by serving them these nutritious snacks. Kiss junk foods goodbye. These snacks are all perfect for the chaotic, on-the-go lifestyles of families with kids.

Sliced Fruit Popsicles

Fruity popsicle sticks

Delicious Treats

Children love eating frozen popsicles on a stick, especially in the summer when temperatures soar. However, this store-bought snack is low in nutrition and high in calories and sugar, making the food a poor choice for growing children. Also known as an ice pop, these treats are typically made of white sugar or corn syrup combined with artificial flavorings and colors that make the snacks attractive to children. Mothers concerned about keeping their family healthy by providing a nutritious snack can serve homemade freezer pops made with fresh, frozen or even canned sliced fruit.

Gather Supplies

Parents making their own ice pops can still provide a delicious cold snack on a hot summer day for their children. Making homemade freezer pops is simple after gathering the necessary supplies and ingredients. There are online and brick-and-mortar stores that sell special trays and containers to make homemade freezer pops that have sticks. The trays and sticks are often made of a durable plastic that is dishwasher safe, making the equipment reusable. Mothers that want to use the traditional old-fashioned sticks can find the items sold in bulk packages. It is also possible to use paper or plastic cups as containers for homemade ice pops. And for the little kids, try a specialty ice cube tray in fun shapes. A small plastic spoon can be used instead of a stick.

Nutritious Produce

Sliced fruit adds color and flavor to the freezer pops, making them fun for children and parents. There is an assortment of fresh fruit available at grocery stores and farmers markets throughout the summer, but parents can also use produce grown at home. Parents can buy strawberries, kiwi fruit and peaches seasonally, leading to the freshest homemade ice pops at the lowest prices. Preparing fruit for the freezer pops is easy enough that children can help with washing the produce. Small fruit such as blueberries do not require slicing to freeze properly, but larger fruit does.

Translucent Bases

Making ice pops with clear or translucent bases allows the beautiful colors of the fruit to show. After putting the sliced fruit into a container, you need to add a base to make the freezer pops. Pouring homemade juices made from apples, lemons or pears mixed with water over the fruit provides a translucent appearance, making it easy to see the colorful sliced fruit. It is also possible to use clear soft drinks for the homemade ice pops. A clear base made of sugar dissolved in boiling water also makes a delicious homemade freezer pop that tastes more like a store-bought popsicle.

 

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Pumpkin Muffins

Being moms, we want to give our children healthy things to eat, but kids typically want sweet treats. When you can combine a sweet treat with something nutritious, it's a winning combination for everyone. That is just what you get when you make a moist sweet potato cupcake. Top the cupcake with a brown sugar icing and your kids will get a great tasting treat, and you will get the satisfaction that they are made from nutritious sweet potatoes. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

Ingredients

3/4 cup fresh mashed sweet potatoes
2 cups white flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter - softened to room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla

Baking instructions

Step one
Line the cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step two
In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter until it is fluffy. It should take about 30 seconds. Next add the sugar. Beat the sugar and butter for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Once the butter and sugar are combined, add the eggs on at a time. Stir in the sweet potatoes and the vanilla, and mix well.

Step three
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add to sweet potato mixture, and stir until well combined.

Step four
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Allow them to cool in the pans for a few minutes, then remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
The brown sugar frosting can be made while the cupcakes are in the oven:

Ingredients

½ cup of brown sugar
One package (8 oz.) cream cheese - softened to room temperature
1 ½ cups unsalted butter - softened to room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions for the icing

Step one
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add a ½ cup of butter at a time, and continue to mix until all the butter is incorporated.

Step two
Add the brown and powdered sugars. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time.

Step three
Stir in the vanilla into the icing. Add the icing to the cupcakes. Store in the refrigerator.

To make a moist layered cake, divide the batter into two 9 inch pans, greased and floured. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.

 

Kid-Friendly BBQ

Delicious golden grilled corn  on table on bright background

Hosting a BBQ is a great way to enjoy good food, nice weather, and relaxed times with friends. If you are looking for ways to include some dishes that the kids at your BBQ will love, read on.

Grilled Food

Kids are notorious for loving hot dogs! Be sure to have plenty of ketchup on hand, since that seems to be the go to condiment staple for kids. Kids also tend to love any finger food, and eating corn on the cob is always a good choice. Why not throw some corn on the grill? To get corn ready for being cooked this way, peel back the surface level part of the husk, and allow corn and husk to soak in water for 15-30 minutes to allow for full moisture absorption. Then, peel back all layers of husk (but keep husk attached) and remove corn silk. Brush the corn with olive oil or butter, as well as some salt and pepper. Pull the husk back up and tie either with twine, or a pulled off piece of husk. Rotate and slowly cook on the grill, and get ready to for some satisfied guests! Remember to avoid serving grilled corn to kids until it is at a suitable temperature.

Side Dishes

An easy and satisfying side dish is sliced raw veggies with dip. Place sliced seasonal veggies in appealing containers that are easy for kids to reach, and use either the all-popular ranch dip, some hummus or make a homemade dip. Another easy and healthy side dish is watermelon slices. Adults and kids alike enjoy biting into a cool and refreshing slice of watermelon goodness!

Desserts

A summer BBQ is no time to heat up the oven. Think simple summer fun as you plan for your desserts. There are great treats such as homemade juice pops that kids will love. Simply take 100% juice and pour it into popsicle molds the day before the party. Smoothies are also a great alternative to ice cream. Place a banana, some grapes and a handful of blueberries in a small blender. Fill remaining space 1/2 with vanilla yogurt, and 1/2 with milk. Blend and serve!

Enjoy your BBQ and having fun times with friends! It's really not hard to cater to the kids in attendance. Chances are, the above mentioned food items will be equally enjoyed by the adults at your party, and everyone will be eating simple, healthy and tasty offerings!

 

Cupcakes for Everyone!

Cupcakes

Cupcakes are a versatile and popular treat for any occasion. They allow for perfect portion control and are fast & easy to serve to family and friends. They don't even necessarily require the use of a plate. Read on for some great ideas about how to incorporate cupcakes into your next family gathering or event.

Holidays and special occasions typically include fun foods and beverages. If you are planning a party or BBQ and want to bake something unique, why not serve some fun cupcakes? Add jellybeans or marshmallow peeps as toppers for Easter cupcakes, or add green sprinkles for Saint Patrick's Day. Use chocolate icing and make eyes and smiling mouths using piped icing for gingerbread boys and girls at Christmastime, or make red velvet cupcakes for Valentine's Day. Think about your own family's traditions and gain inspiration for what they would appreciate seeing on, or even in, a cupcake.

Sometimes families throw a party to welcome the first day of each new season. You can bake cupcakes for an occasion such as this as well. Why not use pearlized jimmies, marshmallows and white frosting to create snowy scenes or snowmen cupcake toppers? Bake cupcakes ahead of the party, and then allow guests to come up with their own icing and topping designs. For a first day of fall party consider using caramel, diced nuts or apples as toppers. Guests will love being able to relax and enjoy a fun and creative treat.

If you are throwing an adult party, why not experiment with baking cupcakes and making icings that are infused with alcohol and liqueurs? The website www.cupcakesgarden.com offers wonderful recipes for the adult palate. If you feel intimidated about baking with beer and liqueur, use this site as a starting point. Also keep in mind that it is a good idea to always slant your cupcake offerings to the time of year and occasion. For example, you may want to serve strawberry daiquiri cupcakes in warm months, and Guinness cupcakes in cooler months.

If you are baking for someone with dietary restrictions, do not despair. Cupcakes really are for everyone. There are plenty of recipes that use coconut flour and coconut oil and milk, so you can adjust your recipes to be dairy free. If you are trying to cut sugar from a recipe, try sweetening with maple syrup, honey, agave or coconut sugar.

Have fun brainstorming wonderful baking ideas with your friends and family members. Spread a little bit of joy and tastiness in your cupcake endeavors!

Resource:

http://www.cupcakesgarden.com/category/cupcakes-by-flavor/beerliquor-cupcakes/

 

Easy Kid’s Party Ideas

Group Of Happy Kids Roasting Marshmallows On Campfire

Planning a spectacular birthday party is on every mom's agenda, but sometimes a busy mom needs some help to fit party planning into her schedule. If you need easy party ideas for your kids, look no further. This article will discuss several easy ideas for three different age groups.

3-5 Years Old: Movie Magic

To plan the perfect birthday extravaganza for 3-5 year old kids, use their favorite children's movie as an easy theme. Choosing from movies such as Cinderella, The Lion King or Cars will immerse kids in their favorite story and will surround them with favorite characters. This theme can be incorporated into decorations, the cake theme and party favors. Since many 3-5 year olds are very visual, make sure that they can see their favorite characters at every turn!

6-8 Years Old: Mad Scientist Theme

When children are between 6-8 years old, you can create a fun birthday party that also incorporates some learning. With a science themed party, you could plan several fun science experiments for kids to participate in (such as making slime). This would not only add to the excitement of the party, but would provide kids with instant party favors as well!

9-12 Years Old: Backyard Campout

Finally, for children ages 9-12, a backyard campout is the perfect solution for a summer extravaganza. Borrow tents from neighbors or relatives and set them around a fire pit. Have guests plan on a sleepover and bring their own sleeping bags. Party activities could include telling ghost stories, making s'mores or roasting hot dogs for dinner. When it is time to turn in for the night, kids can sleep under the stars in the safety of your backyard. Just make sure to have an indoor option available in case of rain!

Planning a great party does not have to take a lot of time or money. As a busy mom, you can plan an entertaining event with limited time and on a budget. Depending on the age of your kids, a movie theme, science theme, or backyard campout might be the perfect party solution. Whatever you decide, your kids will love you for the effort you put into their special day.

 

Tips for Finding the Perfect Sitter

The above-view portrait of a beautiful babysitter looking after

Babysitters take care of your children while you're doing anything from enjoying a fun date to taking care of an emergency. There are several things you should do in order to hire the most reliable and capable babysitter.

Decide What Type of Babysitter You Need

Before you begin looking for a sitter, you need to decide what type of sitter to hire. A mother's helper is a child around the age of 13 who can play with your kids and entertain them. You will need to supervise mother's helpers, but they can give you much-needed breaks and let you get things done.

A standard babysitter is someone who you can call to watch your kids for several hours without your supervision. They include anyone from older teenagers to experienced adults with qualifications. You can go out on a date or to a movie while your babysitter watches the children, gives them dinner, and even puts them to bed.

Backup babysitters are like standard sitters, but they are only called when the regular babysitter can't make it.

Ask Friends and Family

After you've decided what kind of sitter you need, see if any of your trusted friends or family would like to do the job. There's nothing more important than the safety of your children, and hiring friends or family ensures they'll be safe. You could also ask them if they have a trusted babysitter you could use.

Looking Elsewhere

You can also ask at mother's groups, preschool or other functions to see if there is a reliable babysitter that is well liked. Moreover, there are many reputable online sites that can match you with a babysitter. Only go to safe sites that charge a fee. Free sites are not safe. In addition, find a site that screens their babysitters and gives them background checks.

Interview Potential Candidates

Before you hire anyone, you'll first need to interview them in person. Ask them important questions like what their qualifications are, how they would discipline the children, and if they know first aid. Also find out the going rate for babysitters in your area before you hire a sitter, and agree on an hourly rate in advance.

Don't hire a babysitter who has a discipline style you do not approve of. Also, you should ask the babysitter for a few references. Call the babysitter's references, and ask them many questions to find out if the babysitter is trustworthy and if there have been any issues.

Hiring someone to take care of your children is a serious decision. Make sure you look in a variety of places, and conduct thorough interviews. And always leave phone numbers with sitters so you can be reached, if necessary.

 

Skip the Pets for Easter

Rabbit bunny and duckling are friends

Every Easter we’re inundated with images of cute chicks, ducklings and baby bunnies. They’re used to sell candy, Easter baskets and to advertise holiday sales. If you’re a mom and your child is old enough to talk, you’ve probably heard pleas for a pet rabbit or chick for Easter. It’s hard to say "no" to a child’s holiday request, but in this case, you should skip the pets for Easter. Here are some reasons for you to use to explain to your children why buying a baby rabbit, duck or chick is a bad idea.

Baby Animals Need Their Mother & Extra Care

Even very young children can understand the concept that babies need the care of their mother. Chicks and ducks may not live long on their own. It would be heartbreaking for a child to find their pet dead. Chicks must be kept warm and fed properly. If not, they’ll get sick and vets are unlikely to be able to treat a sick baby chicken. Baby rabbits may fare slightly better than chicks if they aren’t very young, but they can still suffer separation anxiety, refuse to eat or get sick.

Babies Grow Up

You’ll need a coop outside for a chicken, and both indoor and outdoor accommodations for a grown rabbit. Children will almost always lose interest in caring for a grown chicken. Adult rabbits need large habitats and need to spend time outside. Are you prepared to set up a chicken coop and care for an adult chicken for the remainder of its life? Does your neighborhood (and climate) allow livestock? Is your child old enough to keep a rabbit’s cage clean and spend time with it outside? Do you have time to clean a cage daily and take the rabbit out if your child can’t? The answer to all of those questions is probably “no.” Keep in mind that adult rabbits, chickens and ducks can also be aggressive. A peck or a bite often results in the animal being taken to a farm or shelter.

Almost every town or city has a petting zoo where children can interact with all sorts of small farm animals. You can often find petting zoos at local farms or regular zoos. Explain the needs of chicks, ducks and bunnies to your children, and then buy stuffed animals instead. It’s better for the live animals and your family!

 

Is Your Child Overweight?

Fast Food

Parenting a child can be a difficult task, especially if that child already has underlying health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of children and young adults in the United States were overweight or obese in 2012. Mothers across the country are facing an obesity epidemic, both for themselves and their children. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that mothers pay close attention to their child's dietary habits. Activities such as talking to doctors, providing the child with healthy food and physical activity will aid you in any attempts to prevent obesity in your son or daughter.

Talk to a Medical Professional

If your child is already healthy, he or she should still have yearly checkups with a general practitioner. However, if he or she is showing signs of being overweight, you could consult with a medical professional who has been trained in the science of nutrition. An overweight child needs a meal plan and a stable daily schedule to achieve healthy goals. A concerned parent should make an appointment with a specialist and get an expert opinion.

Replace Fast Food With Healthy Food

Many American children eat fast food and unhealthy microwavable food due to the cheap price and easy attainability. However, this food can create havoc and supply empty calories in the body of a child who eats it excessively. Replace quick meals of chicken nuggets and pizza with salad and sandwiches loaded with vegetables. Also, use leaner cuts of meat such as chicken and turkey when including animal products in a child's meal. This will prevent the consumption of empty calories, and will likely give the child more energy to make it through the day as well as nutrients for proper growth.

Make Healthy Food More Fun

Giving a child motivation to eat healthy food is essential to do when your little one is overweight and a picky eater. Snacks such as carrots and nuts may not seem exciting to a child at first, but arranging them in a fun pattern or offering special treats after the completion of nutritious snacks will certainly aid the process. When you make your child's lunch, include two small snacks, a sandwich or hearty salad and a dessert. Do this instead of providing money for a lunch purchase. Children will usually appreciate the fullness of the meal as well as the fact that you took the time to prepare it.

 

Music Lessons

little boy plays piano

Instructors and parents generally agree that children often provide clues concerning musical interests. Pre-school youngsters may become fascinated with the piano at Grandma's house or with an old guitar lying around the house. At this age, there are a variety of children's instruments that parents may introduce. A tambourine allows children to learn about rhythm. A xylophone provides the chance to create or mimic a simple tune.

Additionally, there are small child-sized pianos and keyboards having color-coded or numbered keys that come with booklets, which provide a child with the opportunity to learn basic skills. Many instructors have witnessed that children introduced to this type of piano, and allowed to leisurely learn and play, often demonstrate an enduring interest in taking music lessons and playing the piano when older. If children are pushed into taking formal lessons before the age of around 5 or 6, they often become frustrated and overwhelmed.

The recorder, a plastic flute-like instrument is another option for young children. Youngsters may begin playing when little fingers capably cover the holes. Once gaining experience with a recorder, kids often progress to the flute or clarinet. However, parents should wait until a child's permanent teeth come in before allowing a student to play wind instruments secondary to the pressure applied to the front teeth. Young children might also learn to play the guitar or violin at this age.

Private Lessons

Once a child seems mature enough to learn to read music and play the piano, or any other instrument, private music lessons offer many advantages. During the one-on-one communication that occurs between student and instructor, the child has the benefit of learning at their own pace while having the full attention of the teacher. The child naturally absorbs more information, and this relationship also provides instructors with the chance to focus on the child's strengths and weaknesses. The length and frequency of each lesson depends on the age of the student.

Practice Time

Learning a musical instrument requires practice. However, if not handled appropriately, practice becomes an unpleasant chore that leads to disagreements between child and parent. Help children develop a normal routine by scheduling practice sessions for the same time each day. For young children, limit the time to around 15 minutes. If a child seems more interested in watching the clock than actually practicing, use repetition methods instead. Have the child repeat a learned exercise for 4 times, for example, and maybe require them to play a particular scale 4 or 5 times during a practice session.